I feel that 2014 has been a turning point for many technologies, ecosystems and services that are heading for the spotlight in 2015. Here are 9 tech trends that I think will shake up the tech and consumer world next year:
1. Wearable tech
You know how you can’t live without your smartphone? Well pretty soon, you’ll be holding it even closer. If the growing collection of wearable tech offerings weren’t already on people’s radars, they certainly will be now, after Apple’s recent announcement of the Apple Watch, due for release early next year.
Google Glass, FitBit activity trackers, Samsung Galaxy Gear – we’ve seen wearable tech popping up throughout 2014 and I believe 2015 will be the year when it really moves into the mainstream.
Wearable tech is going to completely change how we interact with our surroundings, monitor our health and how we understand ourselves, in a big way.
2. Cryptocurrencies going more mainstream
Starting with the creation of Bitcoin in 2009, cryptocurrencies are another technological innovation that we’ll see breaking into the mainstream in 2015. While they’re still not commonly used, cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin have showed more staying power than many initially expected (with the help of prominent VC’s).
As more people learn about the virtual currency, more merchants are becoming comfortable accepting them and increasing public awareness and trust in supporting the currency systems. Bitcoin ATMS are popping up worldwide, which allow users to buy and sell Bitcoins, even letting them to cash out their bitcoins in their local currency – the movement is gaining momentum and merchants should consider being at the forefront.
3. Different uses for artificial intelligence
No longer will artificial intelligence be the exclusive domain of universities and R&D labs. It’s looking to be one of the next big trends in tech, thanks to a wave of VC funding, interest from players like Facebook and Google, and an increase of available AI-related college courses.
Companies have realized that creative artificial intelligence systems a la HAL 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey aren’t necessarily the way to go – or particularly beneficial for humankind – but by utilizing AI capabilities on a smaller level, we can facilitate and analyze business processes, as well as create and utilize data in new ways.
4. 3D printing in your living room
While 3D printing has been gaining traction slowly in the past several years, it seems set to boom in 2015. The recent availability of desktop printers has fundamentally changed the industry and the way in which people think about 3D printing and how it can work for them.
With the ability to create practically anything, from rare machine parts to prosthetic limbs, the potential for 3D printing is endless and opens up a whole new world of possibilities.
5. The rise of robotics
Robotics are going to start moving out of a primarily industrial setting into people’s daily lives, as collaborative robots (cobots) become more adept about being able to recognize, anticipate and respond to interactions with humans.
Handing tasks over to robots will help businesses to become more productive, as well as assist and protect employees by providing additional power, strength and support in the workplace.
6. Streamlined payments
Paying for things is going to get quicker and easier. Wearable tech and smartphone apps will have you paying for things with just a swipe of your wrist. New companies, resources and products are simplifying the online check out process. Take Stripe, for example. The startup is reimaging how we buy things online by offering backend payment support for all types of businesses – from apps to Apple. Other current customers include TaskRabbit, Shopify, Twitter and now Facebook for the site’s forthcoming Buy button – not too shabby!
The draw for these big businesses, as well as entrepreneurs of all sizes, comes from the availability to scale Stripe’s offerings to fit your business and product, allowing consumers to pay hassle free, whether they’re paying from their computer, smartphone or Apple Watch.
7. Financial progress in developing markets
Paying for goods online may currently be a somewhat clunky process in the first world, but it’s virtually nonexistent in the developing world. In these places, citizens have limited access to general banking, sending or receiving funds online, or paying with credit cards.
Many FinTech startups have already been developing systems to provide better access and create payment gateways for these markets, and further progress will open up a whole new market for startups looking to reach their customers in different ways.
Not only will financial progress in developing markets help spur online commerce, but there will also be an increase in online platforms offering loans. Already, startup Lenddo is leveraging social media profiles and online communities to help determine relevant candidates for small loans, in countries like Mexico and the Philippines.
8. Education for all
Just like seemingly everything else, education is moving online.
For entrepreneurs, this means seeing an increased opportunity for creating products that incorporate more technology into the classroom, as well as providing services and resources for self-directed learning around the globe.
9. Uber-fication of…everything
Chris Osborne is the founder of Founders Grid – A small, remote team who build products, and who also have an active blog focused on entrepreneurship. Chris is based in Asia, having lived out of hotels across the Asia pacific region for 9 years. You can contact him at Chris Osborne and he is currently hiring!